Henry Joost

We are now four installments into the Paranormal Activity series — five if you include the first spin-off, Tokyo Night — and the movies are starting to feel like episodes in a long-running TV show rather than a succession of film sequels with independently existing story arcs. As Adam noted in his review of Paranormal Activity 4, it’s like watching Lost, particularly in the later years when answers to mysteries were not only kept from fans but those mysteries were joined by new questions. With the latest film appearing to have the lowest reviews, CinemaScore and box office gross since the series began, will fans keep following the Paranormal Activity films until they get all the explanations they seek? Just as with a show that decreases in quality and increases in frustration (that’s not to necessarily mean Lost), I will likely keep with it out of curiosity. I can be obsessive and exhaustive in my curiosity at times, and if anything, Paranormal Activity 4 has actually piqued my interest more than the other films have, even if it’s just by introducing new characters and taking a leap forward in time, the latter leaving a large gap in our understanding of what’s going on. And I’m not alone. You can find people discussing and offering theories all over the web, including from people who admit the new movie is the worst of the bunch. To them, this is just a weak episode, something all TV shows have now and again and […]

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Editor’s note: With Paranormal Activity 4 now officially released in theaters, here is a re-run of our Fantastic Fest review, originally published on September 27, 2012. Although the FF version was a work-in-progress, as far as we can tell the final cut is mostly the same save for a slight reordering of some scenes near the end. Another set of cameras and another hopeless family that can’t help themselves. They can’t rid themselves of a demonic presence that is purposefully in their home for a reason, nor can they keep from being compelled to record everything that happens. For a franchise that utilizes the “found footage” form of filmmaking, it still isn’t quite clear yet who has found all of this footage to show us, or why they’ve chosen to sift through two decades’ worth of recordings and cleanly edit it all together and make movies out of them. I gather I’m reading too much into this, but by this point I think I’m due an explanation. Paranormal Activity 4 takes place chronologically following the disappearance of Katie (Katie Featherston) and her nephew Hunter (Brady Allen) at the end of  Paranormal Activity 2, which actually took place before Paranormal Activity, except for the final five minutes, which take place after the events of Paranormal Activity, which started this whole train until we saw Paranormal Activity 3, which explained the origins of the hauntings and the commentary on home video paranormal voyeurism. Part 4 takes place five years after the events of […]

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There is a section of features in this year’s New York Film Festival entitled “On the Arts.” The focus is music and performance, spread across widely distant genres. Becoming Traviata, a documentary about Natalie Dessay’s first production of the opera in France, doesn’t have much of its soundtrack in common with Punk in Africa. This diversity of subject continues outside of the official “On the Arts” section and into the shorts programs, where there are a handful of truly celebratory films about artists and their work. (Perhaps they should have somehow been jointly packaged with the features.) A Brief History of John Baldessari, A Story for the Modlins, and Up the Valley and Beyond bridge the gap between cinema and the still arts of painting, sculpture, and photography. They’re a motley bunch, two of them charismatic documentaries and the third an eccentric mini-biopic. Yet they have in common a playful sense of style, with which they complement and interpret the work of their subjects rather than simply presenting and praising it. All three embrace the spirit of John Baldessari’s declaration, “I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art.”

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The producers behind the Paranormal Activity franchise have created a lucrative money-making machine based solely on giving us faux found footage of ghosts making various bits of technology go glitchy every October. The first trailer for directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s next installment in the series revealed a film that was going to inch along the loose story Paranormal Activity has been telling, that was going to stick to its web cam shots of flickering lights aesthetic, and that was going to add video chatting to the mix of technological things that ghosts like to mess with. Well, there’s plenty of time before Paranormal Activity 4’s October 21 release, so the studio has saw fit to put out a second preview for the film, and this one adds yet another high tech gadget to the spine-chilling mix. Gasp in white-knuckled terror as you take in the horrific results of just what happens when ghostly spirits take over the operations of your living room’s Xbox Kinect. Oh, the humanity!

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While last year’s Paranormal Activity 3 injected the hit franchise with some much-needed style and skill, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman‘s first big-time feature was chided for releasing some trailer that, how do we say, featured almost nothing but footage that wasn’t in the film film? No matter really, as the final result was the best in the series and still pulled off more than a few inventive scares (come on, you know that kitchen gag was aces), but such a track record certainly gives us pause when it comes to any new video footage from Joost and Schulman’s upcoming Paranormal Activity 4. This new teaser is packed with some very standard scares – faces in the dark, banging doors, flashing lights – and while that may be a bit boring and expected, it does mean that we most likely aren’t getting teased with very specific footage we won’t see in the final product. After all, jump scares are a dime a dozen. Check out the latest teaser trailer for Paranormal Activity 4 after the break.

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Today is a great day for fans of lights going on and off and stationary webcam footage, for today is the day that the trailer for the new Paranormal Activity has dropped. If you remember, last year, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman went retro and took the series back to the boxy camcorder days of the ’80s, which was a fun way to add some zest to the experience of thinking that you might have seen something move over there in the background for a minute, but then it was gone. Well, this year they’re back in the saddle, directing Paranormal Activity 4, and it turns out they’ve found yet another way to spice up amateur looking footage that leads up to a figure standing behind the main character and then a fade to black: they’ve added video chat. Yes, Paranormal Activity 4 takes the story of haunted sisters Kristi and Katie and brings it back into today’s world. This time around, the remaining family members seem to have moved next door to a teenage girl or something, and also there’s a kid who has electro powers like Powder…but none of that is really important. The Paranormal Activity movies aren’t so much traditional storytelling as they are the crafting of an experience. It’s all about sitting on the edge of your seat, never knowing when something freaky is going to happen next, and then screaming your lungs out when something suddenly does.

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Just days after Paramount announced that they’re (shockingly!) going ahead with a fourth installment in their runaway scare-em-up success Paranormal Activity franchise comes word that Paranormal Activity 3 co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman are back on board to direct. The pair took on PA3 after the success of their “documentary” Catfish, and while that film has certainly had its own share of speculation as to its veracity, the pair’s ability to present fiction as fact (or vice versa) helped make the third Paranormal Activity the best (and most inventive) yet. The fourth film is already slated to hit theaters on October 19, 2012, continuing the franchise’s established tradition of a pre-Halloween opening (the first film was the only one to not occupy a similar release date), effectively stealing the thunder of the Saw franchise now and forever. Our pals over at /Film took this opportunity to speculate about what the next Paranormal Activity would entail, positing that “the story of Paranormal Activity 4 will likely go one of two ways. Either it can go back in the past and show why Katie and Kristi’s grandmother got all wacky or it can jump ahead (something I felt the third film was lacking) and explain what is going on with the now possessed Katie and her nephew, who she’s kidnapped from her dead sister.” Those ideas just got my gears turning for what I want to see in the next installment.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in a frilly lace cravat and some leather boots, grabs his sword and takes a trip to France to become a Musketeer. Unfortunately, he seems to be almost 400 years too late for those kinds of shenanigans. So he hops the English Channel to become a spy with MI-7. Of course, no one told him that MI-7 was actually nothing more than propaganda. So he heads back home for a good night’s sleep, and to make sure that happens, he videotapes himself throughout the house. While he doesn’t witness any paranormal activity, there are many unspeakable things that can be seen on them.

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I could probably make this review incredibly brief and make everyone happy. If you liked the first two films you’re likely to like the the third.

I wrote that review while waiting in the line for the men’s room.

Like Paranormal Activity 2, Paranormal Activity 3 is a prequel to its predecessor. It takes place in the month of September of 1988 when the two sisters of the first two films were little girls and the referenced beginning of their experiences with the invisible, kitchen furniture-hating demonic figure began. Seriously, this demon really hates kitchens. I think he hates everything but camcorders.

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Remember the salad days, when commercials tried to tell us that Paranormal Activity was the scariest movie ever made? And remember when you finally saw the film, and it had one jump-scare, and that was it? Just me? Well, we can talk about that later. It was a bit of a no-brainer that Paranormal Activity would spawn a franchise – after famously being made on the cheap, and gathering serious word-0f-mouth buzz by way of the Internet (a sort of modern day The Blair Witch Project approach to viral techniques of marketing, paired with a sense of the secretive), Paramount would have been stupid to let the “found footage” smash hit go without pushing out a few more sequels. There was Paranormal Activity 2, which served as the chocolate wafers to the cookie cream that is the Oreo that is the Paranormal Activity franchise. That’s a yummy way of saying that the events of the first film fit into the middle of the second film, making it both a prequel and sequel. Clever! Now we get a real prequel, one that goes way back to the childhood of Katie and Kristi, the sisters at the center of the mystery. Check out the second trailer for Paranormal Activity 3 after the break, which expands on the first glimpses we got of the film from its earlier teaser, glimpses that show us that young Katie and Kristi were, well, pretty damn hard to handle.

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Why Watch? Because it’s art about art. This short documentary is from the same time that made Catfish, but its subject matter is miles away from that film. Here, they step inside the workshop of famed artist Chris Burden to share his car-centric kinetic sculpture called “Metropolis II.” The art is stunning, the voice over illuminating, and one of the most breathtaking moments actually happens when he kills the power, and his city stops. What does it cost? Just 6 minutes of your time. Check out Metropolis II for yourself:

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The Paranormal Activity franchise has been a big success by just about any measure. Both parts earned huge profits at the box office, and while they have issues there’s no denying both films delivered with some truly frightening scenes. The final twenty minutes of part one (seen above) are pretty damn terrifying. I can still hear Landon Palmer screaming in my ear… This series has quickly eclipsed the Saw films to become an annual Halloween event, and part three hits theaters this October. Original director Oren Peli is onboard as producer and the reins have been handed over to the duo behind last year’s faux-doc about online relationships, Catfish. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman are making their narrative feature debut (technically speaking anyway) with what appears to be a prequel set in the 1980s. The two sisters, each of whom faced unseen tormentors in parts one and two, are now shown as young girls via home movies as they first come into contact with the paranormal entity that will eventually haunt them as adults. Check out the trailer below.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s like that time your boyfriend promised to call, but he didn’t. Then he called, like, way later and you still forgave him anyway because you love him. It’s exactly like that. Nathan Adams and Cole Abaius team up to handle the post this evening (hint: Nathan wrote the funny ones), and we lead off with some new pictures from The Daily Mail of Spider-Man swinging around in the air on wires. They mostly just look like Spider-Man swinging around in the air on wires, but I think that’s pretty cool because those last movies looked mostly like cartoon Spider-Man swinging around in the air on wires. If I wanted to see that I would just watch cartoons. I like that they’re making the effort of actually hauling some poor sap up there for practical effects.

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It’s difficult to conduct an interview about a film that no one’s supposed to be talking about, but there’s more fascinating things going on beyond the mystery of Catfish. In a closed door, password-protected session, I sat down for a lengthy conversation with directors Henry Joost and Ariel Shulman, and the subject of the documentary Nev Shulman to discuss how real everything was, the horror aspect, aborted plans to use Bruce Willis’s face for advertising, the list of possible titles, it’s Grizzly Man connection, and what they’re turning down the Justin Bieber biopic to make next. [Spoilers exist simply because we'll be talking openly about the film.]

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‘Catfish’ is, arguably, the breakout hit from Sundance 2010. Expect to hear a lot more about it soon.

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